How very post-modern of me – a blog about things I didn’t blog about! The intention was always to write about what I read, but in 2012 I made a few exceptions – either I struggled to formulate anything coherent about the books, or er, …
Crime and Punishment. Yes I did really read this through to the bitter end, although it was something of a struggle. Why didn’t I blog about it? Some novels are just so monumental it is hard to find anything original or insightful to say. But that’s not the real reason if I am completely honest. At the heart of this novel is a shocking and brutal double murder shown through the eyes of the murderer. The reader is invited to empathise with the killer – not to condone their actions but to come to some sort of understanding of their behaviour, bizarre and erratic though it is. I didn’t, and I fully recognise that is a failure on my part. But without that understanding the rest of the novel is just so many words. The other relatively minor issue I had with this novel was the translation – it was heavy handed and cumbersome, which may have been true to the original text, I have no way of knowing, but make a tough read even tougher.
Oleanna – David Mamet. I read this very quickly earlier in 2012, so definitely need to revisit it in 2013. It is a highly fractured text – a lot of the speeches are one side of telephone conversations, or fast paced cross-purpose arguments, which on the page are almost unintelligible, but in performance I am sure would make a lot more sense. On my initial superficial reading I got the impression that the play condoned violence towards women, which I can’t believe for one minute is right (although I know the play on first publication was considered controversial) – so I definitely need to reread.
50 Literature Ideas you really need to know – John Sutherland. A text book really, but bite-sized introductions to a wide range of literature concepts such as Post-Modernism, Structuralism, Post-Colonialism, and a lot of other -isms. Text books aren’t really for reading, as any student will tell you, but for referring to in the course of that frenzied last few hours of revision. Sutherland works hard at making this all accessible, but there is only so far you can go with Deconstructionism without reducing it down to an alternative set of labels.